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Sotheby’s London benefit auction to raise funds to provide Contemporary Art, Lagos with a permanent home

Sotheby’s London benefit auction to raise funds to provide Contemporary Art, Lagos with a permanent home

Contemporary artists from Africa and the diaspora have generously donated their artworks to raise much-needed funds to provide the Centre for Contemporary Art in Lagos (CCA), Nigeria with a permanent home.

Together, the 25 artworks will open this season’s sale of Modern & Contemporary African Art at Sotheby’s in London which, now in its tenth iteration, has seen more than 100 auction records set for pioneering African artists of the last two centuries, as well as the trailblazers presently working on the continent.

A preview exhibition of this season’s sale will go on view in Sotheby’s New Bond Street Galleries from Friday 18-22 March, while bidding opens today through to 22 March 2022. 

CCA Lagos is an independent non-profit visual art organization founded by the late Bisi Silva in 2007. From its inception, the space quickly became a global platform for the development and presentation of visual culture, while also taking a keen interest in artforms that had been previously under-represented within Nigeria. Today, it also provides access to one of the fastest-growing independent libraries in Africa, reflecting Bisi’s belief that exposure to critical thought was key to the development of an impactful artistic practice.

“Since its inception, CCA Lagos has been a meeting place for visionaries of all forms. The brainchild of curator extraordinaire and my dear friend, Bisi Silva, CCA Lagos serves as a home to young creative minds and is an unnegotiable resource for emerging artists from Africa.”El Anatsui

“I have been following the work of CCA Lagos since its inception in 2007, the same year I started dedicated sales of Contemporary African Art, and have been utterly blown away, not only by its innovative programme of exhibitions and educational resources, but by Bisi Silva’s unparalleled, and second-natured, commitment to promoting African artists to the world. Bisi was a total force of nature who helped bring the international art world to Africa, and she did it tirelessly. It is a huge honour to be staging this benefit auction to continue the legacy of CCA Lagos, just as Bisi would have wanted.”Hannah O’Leary, Head of Modern & Contemporary African Art, Sotheby’s.

Among the artists who have generously donated works for the sale is El Anatsui, Trustee of CCA and longstanding friend of Silva, who – specifically for the occasion – has created a shimmering, large-scale bottlecap sculpture, titled Revelations (est. £600,000-800,000).

El Anatsui, Revelations.

Speaking to CCA and Bisi’s vision, Anatsui said: “CCA, Lagos is a pillar within the local art community. There is no question that it must be preserved and Bisi’s mission sustained. I believe that we are all creative animals; we all have creativity inside of us, we just have to awaken it. CCA, Lagos provides a space to do just that. The centre inspires new generations of creatives to effect change and to continue to promote the art of this continent.”

Beyond Anatsui, Yinka Shonibare CBE RA has donated his 2021 textile piece, Modern Magic (Studies of African Art from Picasso’s Collection) XI (est. £50,000-70,000). In his Modern Magic series, Shonibare responds to the African objects in the collection of Pablo Picasso. Playfully describing this body of work as “Picasso in reverse… cultural appropriation is a two-way thing”, the artist draws a parallel between his practice and that of Picasso, adopting various European art forms, just as the Spanish artist took from West African cultures.

Yinka Shonibare, Modern Magic.

“I remember long conversations with Bisi about her ambitions to transform the visual arts scene in Nigeria, while in London before her final return to Nigeria. I watched as Bisi, a resolute, feminist, intellectual, and visionary, single-handedly transformed the African landscape of contemporary art – from her international curatorial work to publishing and most importantly, her Asiko residency programme.”

Yinka Shonibare CBE, RA

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A further donation includes Kehinde Wiley’s sculpture, After La Négresse, 1872, from 2006, which carries an estimate of £8,000-12,000. A reference to Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux’s 19th-century sculpture of an enslaved Black female figure, here Wiley reimagines the woman as a male basketball player wearing a Lakers jersey.  In so doing, the artist intends to draw a connection between the sports economy and enslavement, challenging the idea of professional athletics as a pathway to liberation. Another of this edition resides in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, as is one of only two known versions of Carpeaux’s La Négresse.

Kehinde Wiley, After La Négresse

Please click here for further information on the works offered to benefit CCA Lagos, including pieces by: Abdoulaye KonatéJoy LabinjoVirginia Chihota and Babajide Olatunji to name but a few. The auction will also mark the first time works by Yaw Owusu, Joshua Michael AdokuruMichaela Yearwood-DanTemitayoOgunbiyiOdinakachiOkoroafor and Nedia Were have been offered at auction anywhere.

A curated collection of paintings, photographs, drawings and sculpture will be offered in the second component of the auction, with works by artists including: Hassan El GlaouiGerard SekotoIsshaq Ismail, Kingsley ObasiOluwole OmofemiJoanna Choumali and Louis Mwaniki – the latter of whom makes his auction debut.

Eight works by the Modern master, Ben Enwonwu, are also peppered across the sale, among them his Portrait of a Young Woman (est. £70,000-90,000). Painted in 1963, just three years after Nigeria gained independence from the United Kingdom, the sitter perhaps represents the “new Nigeria”, with her modern hairstyle and dress. Salient in expression, Enwonwu hoped to capture the mood of the youth in Nigeria at the time; it is bold and self-assured, yet optimistic of the future. Having never appeared at auction before, the portrait is one of many works making their debut on the secondary market as part of this sale, with 97% of the offerings hitting the rostrum for the first time. 

The sale also includes a selection of works by Ethiopian Masters Skunder BoghossianTesfaye Tessema and WoseneWorkeKosrof from the collection of famed Harlem arts couple Mr & Mrs Quincy Troupe, which have not been seen publicly for 40 years. In addition, Cameroonian artist Adjani Okpu-Egbe’s work will raise funds for The International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), the acclaimed non-profit visual arts program in New York to fund career-enhancing residencies for artists from Africa. Please click here to browse the full catalogue.